Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our annual FUN trek to the hospital

Today was fun - it was our annual trek to University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital (aka American Family Children's Hospital). We were a little earlier than past years - we had great weather instead of snow but we didn't get to see Santa or all of the decorations at the hospital. I wanted to go now because we have a young friend, Brynn, at the hospital.

I had 20 quilts to donate. Most were made this year - I think three were made in 2016. Here they are piled on the couch before we left.
Quilts to donate. Not include is the quilt on the back of the sofa.

Today I donated in honor of Brynn. She helped me design a quilt at a recent retreat. Now she is in the hospital for treatment. At the retreat, she went through pictures of all of my 2017 quilts and decided on her favorite. So instead of donating that quilt, we visited Brynn and delivered it to her. She immediately spread it out on her bed and eventually pulled it up to her chin; she was almost asleep when our short visit ended.
Brynn's favorite quilt is also a favorite of mine.
I hope the other 20 recipients like their quilts and that the quilts bring them some comfort. 

Last year I wrote:

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.
-Winston S. Churchill

... I'm really not sure how to explain why I donate. It is just what I do. It feels good. I want to give back. I enjoy giving. I want to help. I want to make a difference. It is my work at this point in my life. I am blessed to be in good health and blessed to have enough time and resources to share.  

“Happiness doesn't result from what we get, but from what we give.”  
-Ben Carson

This year I still agree with everything I wrote last year. Today I was able to watch a sick child receive one of my quilts. This 10-year-old was delighted and immediately snuggled under her new quilt. I think it brought her comfort and that delighted me. I'll definitely be making and donating more quilts! 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Just Sailing Along ...

A while back, Leslie, The Cuddle Quilter, made a Sailboat Quilt that I just loved - you can see her post here. I decided to make my own pattern - good for my mind and my stash because it usually takes more fabric!

I made a few prototypes - some will be used in a later quilt. I took my favorite one and made 24 more boats. Then I realized that one measurement of the prototype was different from the 24 boats. So I made the quilt with just 20 boats. The prototype is on the back and the other 4 boats will be used in another quilt some day.

This donation quilt is 48" by 51". We had a nice day today so I got a couple of photos outside.

I think the back would have looked neat with the color "stripes" going horizontal instead of vertical but there wasn't enough fabric.

The white piece under the sail in the prototype on the back finished at 3/4" high. On all of the other blocks, the piece finished at 1 1/4" high. I wonder how that happened??! 

The batting is Dream Cotton and I used Aurifil thread for piecing and quilting. You can see the blue binding better when the quilt is on the design wall.

I free motion quilted waves using my quilting rulers. I haven't done much free motion quilting in a while and I really do need practice. The quilt has been laundered and my little bobbles blend in much better now - whew!

I think the best thing that happened this week was that my oldest brother was moved from the VA hospital to a rehab center much closer to his home. Yesterday my other two brothers and I were able to visit with him. This is a picture of the four of us. It is seldom that all 4 of us are together, as well as our surviving spouses, so it was a special time.  And Tom, aka Santa, can now walk about 20 feet. We are hoping that his time at rehab goes quickly - he is ready to be home!

I've started a pair of socks for Ray. The yarn color is 'Bears' as in Chicago Bears. They are rather loud!

We have one more Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow. The house is clean, the pies are made ... I am ready!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A couple knitting finishes...

First a snood (a scarf and a hood). This is from the alpaca fleece that I had made into yarn. The yarn, if you recall is very thick but it worked well for this project. The pattern is Elizabeth's Snood #2031 by Nancy Kleiber.
 


And second, another pair of socks. These are for me, knit with Malabrigo in the color Anniversario. I used Ann Budd's pattern 7 Stitches per Inch Sock with the Fish Lips Kiss Heel by SoxTherapist.





And now it's time to begin cooking! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Weekend Retreat

Last Friday, four of us went on a weekend retreat just a few miles away. We were there once before a year ago. Sandy, Krista, Barb, and I have been friends for years and we were excited to find a weekend when we could all attend.

Krista's daughter, B, spent most of the weekend with us - she is 10 and has Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. It was diagnosed last month and she will have surgery to help her pain in the next few weeks. I taught her how to finger knit (she had no trouble learning - she's a natural!)

and she helped me design this quilt. 

This wasn't one of our most productive retreats but we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Here are a few of the projects that were worked on:



There was also some knitting.
 

I made a piece for the back of a flannel quilt,

and I put together this little jungle quilt - I think I had to sew 4 seams!

I used the rest of the layer cake that B and I used in the quilt covering her above to make this quilt.

And I worked on my sailboats. 
 

We are busy everyday this week. Today we made pies at church. 

I will hopefully get in the sewing room in the next few days. I have projects to finish!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A couple of knitting finishes and a Smooth...mess!

Last May, some friends gave me the fleece from 3 of their alpacas. I took it to the Illinois Wool and Fiber Mill to have it processed into yarn. I was so impressed when we visited the place in September of 2016 and spoke with the man there. Last spring, I took the fiber there and was told by the couple working to just fill out the paperwork and the owner, a lady, would get in touch and answer any questions. Well I never did get any questions answered but I did learn some things such as to find a different mill next time! I finally got my yarn after many attempts to call/email. It took 5 months and I now have 15 pounds of alpaca yarn with  a little wool mixed in. (It is supposed to be Icelandic wool but I can't get that verified nor can I find out the percentage of wool.) 

I have 6400 yards of yarn which is all natural/cream colored. It would have been nice to have some of the yarn dyed but that involves questions so it did not happen this year. My yarn is a very heavy worsted weight which will also be changed next time. I made this hat for the son of the couple who gave me the fleece. He's not yet 2.




I'm still trying to figure out the gauge for sweaters and will eventually make more items. I might even try my hand at dyeing yarn.


Speaking of sweaters, I finished one. I bought the Quince and Co Lark yarn in September at Yarn Harbor in Duluth, MN. I love it and it fit like it was made for me! The pattern is Dalis by Dianna Walla.


I finished the sweater on October 29 but I didn't block it. We've both been fighting our seasonal junk - allergies/cold/sinus infection... Just a year ago, we both had the same thing and ended up sick for a couple of months. This time, as soon as I started feeling bad, I was very proactive and headed for the doctor on October 30. On November 3, as I sat down to enjoy my breakfast - oatmeal and a raspberry/blueberry/mango/spinach smoothie, I tipped over the smoothie. It went on the carpet, and in my knitting basket - all over my new, finished sweater and an almost finished scarf. Ugh! I soaked the sweater and the scarf and I think I have the stains removed. The carpet is okay too. The sweater is still drying and I hope it still fits - it soaked for a long time and seemed to 'grow' quite a bit. Hopefully it'll be dry soon.       

In the meantime, I've finished my steroids and antibiotics and even better, I feel good. I'm still drinking smoothies for breakfast and my knitting basket has been moved!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Grandson's Quilt is Done and Delivered!

Grandson Mack has a new bedroom and a new bed so he wanted a new quilt. His bed is a double or full size. This quilt is 78" by 87". 

Mack said to make something and surprise him. I thought about guitars (he is an awesome guitarist) or hockey themed (he's a pretty awesome hockey player too) but then I decided I would do something more grown up. I think this quilt will be with him a long time. Note: I may be a biased grandparent when it comes to awesomeness!
As usual, I didn't spread this out well. It really does lay flat!
After buying the solid fabrics, I had to figure out the placement of colors and the width of the strips - I didn't have a pattern. I never thought about all of these decisions when I bought the fabric - what was I thinking???! This simple quilt took days to design - much longer than most quilts I make. 
I hope you all realize how hard it is for me to bend and spread out a quilt.
I'm really not that lazy!
I used Aurifil thread and Dream Cotton batting. I bought the fabric at the Quilt Peddler in Fennimore, Wisconsin. I quilted this with a walking foot and horizontal lines - it is a very modern quilt. Each of the strips is stitched with the matching color. The quilt has been laundered so it does have a crinkly look.

The backing fabric just jumped out at us the day Ray and I  were shopping for the plain fabrics - it is perfect match for all of the fabrics we had chosen and it had a tiny bit of pink but not near as much as it looks like in the picture. We teased Mack that I was making a quilt that was all pink. 
Colorful back
We gave the quilt to Mack yesterday and he likes it! I think it turned out pretty neat too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Diamond Hugs and Yak Socks are done!

Diamond Hugs is finished! There were lots of little bumps in the road to get this one done mostly a sewing machine that didn't want to work. This quilt is a gift and I didn't want to stop so I just changed to another machine and kept going. And now it is done!
The quilt does lie flat if the person (me) spreading it out takes the time.
The squares are all scraps of fabrics that I decided to clean out last summer. This is the second of three flannel quilts using up most of my flannel scraps. You can see the first quilt in the group, Hugs Squared, here.

The quilt is 80" by 88" and the batting is Dream Cotton. I pieced and quilted this with Aurifil thread. I did the machine quilting with a walking foot and quilted the diamonds with double lines. The border is quilted in lines parallel to the sides.

The back is also flannel with matching leftover HST pieces from the front adding some interest off center.


I also finished Ray's Yak socks. They are actually yak and bamboo and feel very nice. The yarn is Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Basin Ranch. Ray picked out the yarn when we were at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in September.


The weather has been cool and rainy - perfect for working  on a grandson's quilt and knitting my sweater. Hopefully I'll have another finish or two in the coming week.

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